Thursday, March 5, 2009

Go figure.

After I posted all the knoxmoms blogs on here I realized you need to read them from the bottom up for them to make sense. But after you read these the next one will be right.

Envelope system blog for knoxmoms

I’ve mentioned that our family lives on cash by using the envelope system. I’ll explain our system then you can put your system together in a way that best benefits your family.
My husband’s paycheck is direct deposited every other week into our checking account, which runs statement wise, the 21st through 20th of the month. our monthly budget runs this way too. Since his paychecks are the same each pay period we budget for the whole month, cash a check for the amount needed to fill the envelopes and fill them.
We have a fireproof safe that we keep our envelopes in. I’ve purchased a plastic, medium sized accordion file with 13 pockets. I divided the categories up into the following: auto, house, food, entertainment and recreation, clothing, childcare, medical, property taxes and car tags, insurance and the last one is gifts. In the last two pockets I keep envelopes and index cards. Mike and I get a small amount for blow money each month. There is no envelope for that. It goes straight into our wallets.
In another accordion file, same size but different color, I have categories for charity and church offerings (separate from our tithes), retirement, college savings and we each have a pocket for our spending money and finally a bank pocket. If we write a check we take the money out of the corresponding envelope and put in the bank envelope for deposit.
Within each category there are several envelopes. For example house includes electric, water and maintenance. The phone bill and Internet are taken straight out of the bank by the company. Auto includes gas and oil, maintenance and AAA. Entertainment and recreation has vacation, books, activities, hobbies, magazines and the local newspaper. All except the vacation envelope are filled on an as needed basis. The vacation envelope is filled every month.
As I fill each envelope I label the outside to identify it. I then date the index card and put the amount of money that is in the envelope on that day. This helps me in two ways. I can pull it quickly to see how much is in it. Then the next month when I’m half way through filling envelopes and I have to stop to break up an argument (which happens every month at the exact time I fill envelopes) I can look at the amount already in there and figure out if I’ve filled it already. I try to check the category off as I fill it but it doesn’t always happen that way.
I carry the Dave Ramsey Deluxe Envelope System for my wallet. They come in several colors and styles. My envelopes in my wallet are food, gas, gifts, blow money, church and miscellaneous. I keep $20 in the food envelope at all times. My blow money is always in there as long as it last. When I go shopping I put more money in food and gifts. If I’m buying items for the preschool/children’s department at a place the church doesn’t have an account I take cash to pay for those items. Miscellaneous can carry anything else. I write the date on the misc. envelope, where it is for and the amount of money in the envelope. When I need gas of course I fill that one too.
When the cash runs out in my wallet it is time to go home. If we run out at home its time to eat what is in the pantry and stay home.
If you have a monthly budget the envelope system is a great tool for helping you stick to your budget. It’s not hard to set up or follow. You just have to be willing. If you have any questions or I need to clarify anything let me know. Have a great weekend and keep budgeting.

January 20th knoxmoms blog

As I hinted in last Thursday’s blog, today I’ll give you some ideas that are free or cheap and fun. These are ideas I’ve picked up from friends, magazines, books, television and my kids. We have tried all of these. I’ll just list them so they are easier to read.

C Cheap- Making homemade playdoh. I’ve got at least 10 different recipes for homemade playdoh. It’s cheap and you probably already have all the ingredients you need. Here’s one to try: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 cups water, food coloring or 1 pkg of koolaid, 2 tbsp cream of tarter, 4 tbsp of oil; stir together and cook, it will take about 5 minutes to form a glob, knead, take out of pot and knead again as it cools, add food coloring, separate for several colors, store in airtight containers. There are other recipes that don’t call for cream of tarter. Google homemade playdoh and you will find a recipe you like. Use cookie cutters and rolling pins to play with it.

C Free- Family game night. You don’t have to buy games, make up your own. Our kids love to take a pack of cards or colored paper and make up their own games. Our favorite board game is Monopoly. We often play volleyball in the den with a soft rubber ball, $1 at the dollar store. Think of your favorite childhood game and teach it to your children.

C Cheap- You have to eat. Let the kids decide the menu from something you already have in the house. They can help you cook it, set the table, and be the servers. This of course depends on the age of your kids. Mine are still little and think this is great fun. Teenagers may not agree. Of course you could always tip your server. Give them the change from your pocket, 15 minutes extra staying up time, an extra story before bed. You could have an indoor picnic, spread a tablecloth on the floor and eat.

C Free- It’s freezing outside as I write this, literally. But the afternoons warm up a little bit. Bundle up and go to a park to play, or let the kids play outside at home. I don’t suggest playing at the mall if you are trying not to spend money. It’s just too tempting.

C Free- Clean out the toys. Kids can pack away toys they haven’t played with in a long time. If you think they may play with them at a later time keep them and pull them out when they are bored with the others. I know the kids won’t think this is much fun, but you will when you see a cleaner, less cluttered toy room. Offer them a reward like staying up late on the weekend.

C Free- Knoxmoms.com- Check out the datebook here on knoxmoms for free and cheap activities. We all know knoxmoms is a great resource.

These are just a few of the things we like to do. If you have other ideals please post them as a comment here or as another post. With four children, three of them at home all day we are always looking for new things to do. And I’m sure others are too.
Have a great week,

Michelle

january 15th knoxmoms blog

Happy New Year’s! I apologize for the length of time since I last wrote. I hope that everyone has met as a family and set their family goals for the year. As the economy continues to get worse and more people are being laid off families have to learn to be tighter with their money. Depending on your need and willingness to make ends meet it can be done. It may be really, really hard and it may require a lot of sacrifices. It may take several months to see a difference. It may also require asking for help, don’t be ashamed. There are a lot of places you can contact and get the name of someone who can help you with your budget. Below is a few things that may help you tighten your budget.

$ Credit Cards- If you already owe on them you can try to negotiate with the company for a lower percentage rate. If you have the money, pay more than the minimum each month. If you don’t have the money to pay it when it comes due, don’t use it. I’m not sure if you are aware or not but if you negotiate a payoff with the credit card company it can effect your tax return. Depending on the company you may receive a letter or form stating that you paid off a certain amount. The difference in that amount and the amount you still owe may need to be added as income on your tax return. Most credit card companies including store credit cards will turn the difference in as a loss. And you are responsible for turning in the income that they consider you made. Check with your tax professional and get advice on how to handle the situation.

$ Electric Bills- I don’t know about you but my electric bill alone this month was $300. That is pretty average for December and January though. But yet I still only budgeted $125 this month. Why? I called my electric company and asked them if I paid the same amount all year what amount do I need to pay? They looked at my bills for the last 12 months and my average was $125. I could pay that amount every month to the electric company and then at the end of the year if I owed more I would pay the difference. If I had paid too much they would credit my account for the next month or two. Since we use the envelope system and I like having that money at my disposal just in case, I budget that amount every month. We did dip into it the month that gas was $5 a gallon. But I put it back in over the next couple of months as we had leftover money in the gas envelope.

$ Not life sustaining needs- Ok, I know I’m going to catch flack here from some of you. But I would not sleep well if I didn’t remind you what you already know. Satellite, cable television, Internet, cell phones, movie rentals, movie theaters, etc, are not life sustaining needs. Yes, they make life a little happier but they are also very expensive. If you don’t need it get rid of it. We have an antennae with a converter box. No, I’ve never seen Jon and Kate plus 8 except in Today’s Christian Woman magazine; which was a Christmas gift. Yes, we do have Internet and cell phones but it has been in our budget for a long time. And we don’t have to have them so we could get rid of them if need be. The last movie we rented was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when it came out. The last movie we saw at the theater was The Pink Panther. Only because we chaperoned our youth group trip to the movies.

I know not everyone is willing or can be as frugal with their money. But think about something that you don’t really need or use that cost you every month. And do something about it. I don’t think the economy is going to turn around anytime soon. So we all have to learn to live a little tighter and be willing to help others.
I have another blog ready to go. I will post it at the beginning of next week. It has some free, cheap and fun ideals for family time. Have a great weekend.

Michelle

Answers to my 10 questions

So I realized that I hadn't posted my answers to my 10 questions from my starting the new year goals. I thought you might be interested in what they were. If you missed the post here are the questions again with my answers. If you and your family haven't answered them yet now is a good time to do that.

1.List the three most important things to you today.
my kids, my husband and God (I know they're not suppose to be in that order. Therefore I am working on that as one of my goals.)

2. If money was no problem, list three things that you couldn’t live without.
a maid, wireless Internet, a maid

3. List three things that money can’t buy, that you can’t live without.
God, my husband and my kids

4. What is your view of money? Your husbands? Your kids?
my view: security, food on the table, clothes on our backs, gas in the car
his view: a tool or responsibility that can be used to provide good (when used properly) or harm (when used selfishly)
kids view: just starting to understand what money is, how it works, think they need it all the time, but end up putting it in the offering plate on Sunday

5. How much money in the bank would make you content?
I'd like to have at least a years worth of living expenses, but am content with just having something.

6. What is your ideal financial situation in 5, 10, 15 years?
5 years: living tightly like we do know but able to splurge a little more often
10 years: still living tightly but able to give even more than we do now
15 years: working just for fun, not needing the money to live on, giving it to those who do

7. If you had $1000, what would you do with it? (This will help you see where your priorities are.) Honestly I would want to blow it all on me but that wouldn't happen. So I'd tithe to the regular budget my 10%, give $50 to a charity of choice, give each of us $25 to blow, $100 per child for ESA's, $200 for retirement and $100 for a fun day out

8. What could you do without if you suddenly found yourself in a financial crisis?
We don't have cable or satelite and live pretty light already. So I would have to say the cell phone, money in retirement each month, Parent's Day Out, Wednesday night dinners at church, buying gifts for everyone just because we like to give.

9. Are you willing to track your spending and work on a budget? Already do.

10. Are your marriage and kids worth it? YES!